Note: We received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes.
Is no secret that I love Ms. Merrow’s books and that every time I see a new one coming out I'm very happy. It doesn’t matter if they are full-length novels, novellas or short stories, I know that regardless of its length I will enjoy the book. That’s why I couldn’t wait to read Permanently Legless.
Chris lost both legs in Afghanistan during his last tour of duty. He’s finally recovered and back to living his life. Things aren’t easy but with good humor and a strong will he’s enjoying himself, or at least trying to. One night he goes clubbing with his friends to the place where he went just before deploying. Once there he remembers the one night stand he had with a guy named Josh. He was quite taken with him and hasn’t been able to stop thinking about him during all this time. But he knows he’s wasting his time because Josh was better looking and younger than him, and that was before Chris lost his legs. So even though Josh asked to remain in touch, Chris never did.
But fate has a different plan so is no surprise to anyone but Chris when Josh happens to be in the club tonight. Once they see each other there’s instant recognition in Josh’s eyes and sparks fly, but Chris isn’t the same man he was and he’s unsure about a potential relationship with Josh. The question is whether two damaged guys that are so different from each other have a chance to make it work, or even if they are brave enough to try.
One of the reasons I love this author so much is because she writes wonderful characters. It doesn’t matter age or background, there’s always something endearing and charming about them. That’s the case with Chris. He is rough around the edges and has dark, self-deprecating sense of humor. He came across as a confident and strong man who’s gone through a lot, but who won’t stop fighting. I got the impression that part of that humor, and even his positive take on life, were more of a protective façade than a real reflection of what was going on inside of him. And above all I loved his honesty.
Anyway, ramp or no bloody ramp, it's good to be back. There was a while where I wondered if I'd ever get here again. Lying in hospital, waiting for the doctors to stick in the next shot of morphine--and before that, just after the bomb went off. It didn't hurt straight away. You get this rush of fuck-knows-what that keeps you breathing and keeps you calm, and you just look at the mass of blood and Pedigree Chum that used to be your legs and you think, Right. So this is it.
I think he was hurting a lot, which is understandable considering the circumstances, and he was coping with it the best he could. Some people wallow in self-pity, some people drink and some people joke and try to make the best of it. It isn’t a sad story, on the contrary, it’s funny and entertaining, but it has its moments where the seriousness of the situation shines through:
Empty words. But at least he's saying them to me. I mean, a lot of people find it hard to talk to someone in a wheelchair, fuck knows why. That's why I like to get around on my own as much as I can. You turn up anywhere with an able-bodied mate, it's like you and your chair have gone into stealth mode. You're so far off the bloody radar they don't even look at you, much less talk to you.
Josh wasn’t as well-developed but we get some insight into his character. I think this is where the length hurt the story because I got the impression of a shy young man with a lot of issues, but they are never addressed in the story, so he remains a bit of a mystery. Their love story was sweet and romantic, and as a whole it was more of a beguiling than anything else. We see them reuniting and giving themselves a chance, but that’s it. It was satisfying but yet I wanted more.
It was a lovely story about second chances at love and life, but most of all about healing, even if that’s not what it seems at first glance. At 7k words it’s really short but it packs a lot of punch. If you are a fan of contemporary romance I’m sure you will enjoy it.
Note: right now you can get the book at a reduced price directly from the publisher here.
Review by Brie
Only half the man he used to be—but maybe that's enough.
The Taliban may have taken both Chris's legs, but he came back from Afghanistan with his sense of humour and his lust for life firmly intact. The one thing that can shake his confidence is meeting Josh, the one-night stand from before his tour of duty he hasn't been able to forget.
It turns out Josh hasn't forgotten Chris, either. But with Chris such a changed man, can they still have a future?
Permanently Legless by JL Merrow
Amber Allure. January 22, 2012